Taylor v. Hull et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendants motion to dismiss [Doc. #41] is DENIED, without prejudice. Signed by District Judge Carol E. Jackson on 2/13/2014. (KMS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
SAMUEL LEWIS TAYLOR,
UNKNOWN HULL, et al.,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the motion of defendants Bruce Milburn
and Kenneth Ruble to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) [Doc. #41]. For the reasons stated below, defendants’ motion
to dismiss will be denied.
Plaintiff, an inmate at the Crossroads Correctional Center, brings this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.
Plaintiff’s allegations arise out of his confinement at the Potosi Correctional
Center (“PCC”). He alleges, inter alia, that on June 3, 2012, defendants Milburn
and Hull physically assaulted him while he was in handcuffs, thereby causing
plaintiff serious physical injuries. Plaintiff further alleges that defendant Ruble
“watched without interfering with [defendant] Milburn,” and thereby failed to
protect plaintiff. Plaintiff states on page four of his complaint that he exhausted
the grievance procedures available at PCC prior to filing the instant action.
Specifically, plaintiff states, “Completed the entire issues from IRR through
grievance appeal” [Doc. #1, page 4].
In their motion to dismiss, defendants contend that plaintiff, in fact, did not
complete the second stage of PCC’s grievance procedure, and therefore, failed to
exhaust his available administrative remedies, as required by the Prison Litigation
Reform Act. Defendants have attached plaintiff’s PCC grievance file as an exhibit
to their memorandum in support of their motion to dismiss [Doc. #42-1].
Defendants contend that, although plaintiff was given a grievance form, it was
never signed or returned to PCC staff, and therefore, plaintiff failed to fully
exhaust his prison remedies.
A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim
tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint so as to eliminate claims “which are
fatally flawed in their legal premises . . . thereby sparing litigants the burden of
unnecessary pretrial and trial activity.” Young v. City of St. Charles, 244 F.3d
623, 627 (8th Cir.2001) (citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326–27 (1989)).
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the complaint “must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.’” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 555 U.S. at 570). This
“plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (internal
quotations omitted). On a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept as true all
factual allegations in the complaint and view them in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007). The court may only consider the pleading itself and documents
referenced therein. Moreover, if a pleading contains sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to show potential entitlement to relief, the plaintiff’s failure to
respond to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion does not warrant dismissal. See, e.g., McCall v.
Pataki, 232 F.3d 321, 323 (2d Cir. 2000).
Defendants contend that this action should be dismissed pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6), because plaintiff failed to complete the second stage of PCC’s grievance
procedure. Defendants rely upon and have attached to their motion to dismiss
documents that are outside the pleadings; however, they have not moved in the
alternative for summary judgment. Pursuant to Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure, the court has discretion to consider such materials in a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss and convert the motion to one for summary judgment.
Here, however, in light of plaintiff’s incarceration and pro se status, as well as the
lack of any discovery to date, the court declines to consider the defendants’ motion
as one for summary judgment. See Dowdy v. Hercules, 2010 WL 169624 at *4
(E.D. N.Y. 2010) (refusing to convert Rule 12(b)(6) motion to a motion for
summary judgment where plaintiff was a pro se prisoner and had not yet had an
opportunity to conduct discovery); see also Perez v. Hawk, 302 F. Supp. 2d 9, 16
(E.D. N.Y. 2004) (same; where plaintiff was pro se prisoner asserting a Bivens
claim for inadequate medical care).
Because defendants’ motion to dismiss rests solely upon plaintiff’s PCC
grievance file, which has now been excluded from consideration, the Court finds
no evidence to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Thus, at this time, and
viewing plaintiff’s allegations in a light most favorable to him, the Court will
accept as true plaintiff’s assertion that he completely exhausted the prison
grievance procedures available to him at PCC prior to filing this action. For these
reasons, defendants’ motion to dismiss will be denied.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendants’ motion to dismiss [Doc. #41]
is DENIED, without prejudice.
Dated this 13thday of February, 2014.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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